In Sept 2013, a new watering hole burst onto the Jackson scene. Fondren Public opened with much social media fanfare and began serving exotic brews from a shopping center on Old Canton Road, tucked in the corner between Cups and Rainbow Foods. The interior makes you feel as if you have landed in a pub in the village outside of Downton Abbey. Dark wood, mirrors, shelves of curious books and hardwood flooring surround patrons. However, Lady Mary might be slightly confused by the establishment’s Galaga/Ms. Pac Man machine and the projection TV on the patio. Said patio also includes a unique feature to the Jackson bar scene — two bocce ball courts. The courts are fronted by several murals that were painted by local artists when the location housed the Swellophonic store. Sunny afternoons will find numerous patrons trying their hand at a bocce game or maybe a cornhole match. This bar is very popular with the young professionals crowd. (I think that several of our firm’s associates have cots there.)
The primary focus of Fondren Public is beer. The bar sports 24 ales, IPAs, stouts and other brews on tap — many which are new to the state. This selection is supplemented by a plethora of bottled beers. For those who prefer a less hoppy beverage, the menu provides many wines and a full bar. Fondren Public also sells growlers (large bottle for storing beer — not pit bulls) of its beers on tap. One thing that should not be ignored at Fondren Public is the food. In addition to standard bar fare like mini-corn dogs and sliders, Fondren Public has some of the most unique fried cheese in town. (This writer’s redneck palate cannot do a description justice.) In addition, the Public Chips are their creative take on nachos and are not to be missed.
Fondren Public has hosted events with several local breweries since opening last fall. Both Tin Roof and Southern Prohibition have held tastings and giveaways there. Fondren Public also recently hosted a fantastically-titled “Bacon and Brews” event that benefitted the Mississippi Burn Association. Several alumni associations have held sports viewing parties there. I was also told that the patio is available for rent for private functions — just call to reserve.
Since this article is supposed to be a critique, I will have to posit two minor issues with Fondren Public. The first, and probably most troublesome, is the parking. Cramming new numbers of beer enthusiasts into an already packed shopping center parking lot has resulted in some frustration. Some patrons would tell you that the answer is to arrive early and leave late. The second thing I would change the bar’s operating hours. Fondern Public does not open until 4 p.m. Monday – Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday. Closing time is 2 a.m., when I am told it is packed. For an older lawyer like me, no way I make it up that late. It is closed on Sunday, which denies its fans the opportunity to watch football on the patio and wash down a few hard-to-find beers. Other than those two small hiccups, Fondren Public is a welcome addition to the lawyer happy hour scene. I hope to see you there.